Before Carl and I were married, before we had kids, we had Diesel.
Beverly from Rottweiler Rescue of Los Angeles found him on the side of the road with his mother – skinny as hell, no hair on his ears from flies biting his skin – trying to avoid getting hit by speeding cars.
On his first night with us, Diesel peed all over our CD’s. I don’t think it was a coincidence that my Tori Amos CDs got the bulk of the urine – that dog always hated her music and would leave the room whenever he heard her voice.
I used to stuff Diesel into my little Honda Civic and we’d drive all over the Valley. He loved riding in the car. He’d stick half his body out the window and bark excitedly at people when we were stopped at a red light. I’m pretty sure he made one woman in her Mercedes pee her pants.
Sometimes we’d go into a pet store and he’d sit and stare at all the fish. He was hypnotized and the only way I could drag him away was if I said food. Then he’d careen down the aisles like a drunken pinball until he arrived at something that smelled good. More than once, we found ourselves in the cat food aisle.
I had the mega brilliant idea of taking him for a walk once while I rollerbladed. Diesel was terrible on the leash for quite a few months. If he was a small lap dog, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but he was 100+lbs and all muscle. He tugged slightly and I lunged forward a few feet, doing awkward and laugh-worthy face plants into neighbors’ lawns. I mooned one family by accident – I can still hear the kids screaming.
When we brought our first-born home from the hospital, Diesel looked at me and then the baby and he turned and walked out the door. He was very distant for a few weeks and would barely acknowledge me, even when I fed him. One day, I went outside to sit with the baby and, as if nothing happened, Diesel trotted over to me, sniffed the baby’s head, laid down next to us and rested his head on my lap.
Diesel definitely suffered from selective hearing disorder. In other words, he was a stubborn son of a bitch. We taught him some commands and would only perform them when he felt like it. We didn’t win any obedience awards, in case you were wondering.
People would often ask if it was okay to pet him or if he was a friendly dog. I’d feign shock and tell them hell no – he was a dog to be feared because I needed to keep up my street cred. But the truth was, Diesel was a gentle giant. If you put out your hand, he’d come over and nuzzle you with his nose. Way to make a liar out of me, dog!
I wasn’t the only one with brilliant ideas. On my birthday one year, Carl decided to get a raft. What the fuck are you going to do with that, I asked. What aren’t we going to do with it, Carl said excitedly as if he somehow was going to rule the world with this raft. When we came home, Carl wanted to test the raft out in the pool. Oh Diesel’s gonna love this thing, he said. Are you crazy? He hates the water, I argued. Ahhhhh, but he’s never gonna get wet while in the raft. I stood in the short end as I watched the disaster unfold: Carl placing Diesel in the raft, a few minutes of calm, Carl pushing the raft around, a little giggle from me, a sudden movement from Carl and Diesel started freaking out and wanted to get the fuck off the stupid yellow thing, his claws puncturing the raft, it started taking on water, Carl helping Diesel to the side of the pool, Diesel getting out and never looking back. He just went inside. Carl and I watched the raft sink to the bottom of the pool. Well, happy birthday, Carl said.
Sometimes Diesel would wander into the kitchen and it always amazed me at how he could reach things I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to get to. He ate three heads of garlic once and you could see it is in his eyes, he was convinced he was the canine Val Helsing.
As he got older, Diesel became even more indignant and truly became an old man. We ended up adopting two other dogs and he never let us forget how stupid he thought this was. He just wanted to be left alone, but the two younger dogs wanted to play with him. You’d hear the three of them arguing and it always ended with Diesel getting on his bed with his back to them.
He loved the kids and would do a low, warning growl to anything and anyone that would approach them, whether it was a squirrel or a tree branch. The three of them would chase one another in the backyard, but eventually it would just be the 9-year-old and the 7-year-old running around because Diesel hated walking in grass, especially when it was wet. He’d walk all the way around the perimeter of the yard to get from one end to the other just so he wouldn’t have to walk on the grass.
And then, Diesel got really sick and could barely walk due to complications with his bladder. The vet said even with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of medical help, the poor guy’s quality of life would never be good again.
I cried like I never cried before. That horrible, snot running down my nose, red-faced, uncontrollable, whole body shaking crying.
We fed him a bunch of dog biscuits and he looked at us like he knew exactly what was going on. He fell asleep with us hugging him.
Diesel was a superhero and I was so very lucky to be his sidekick for nine years.